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Copyright: Step 4: Consider whether the work has been licensed by your institution in a way that permits (or prohibits) the use you wish to make

This guide provides information (not legal advice) to support NWC community decision-making in the use of copyright protected material in research, learning, and teaching.

Purpose of Guide and Disclaimer

This guide intends to refer NWC community users to accurate information. However, information received from the NWC Library or the NWC Copyright Librarian is neither legal advice/opinion nor legal counsel to the college or any members of the NWC community. Please contact the NWC Office of General Counsel or NWC Staff Judge Advocate's Office for NWC-related legal advice and interpretation of the law, or personal counsel for personal legal advice. The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by NWC of sites or the information, products, or services contained therein, nor does NWC exercise editorial control over the information found at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this guide. U.S. copyright law is subject to change.

Special Library Licensing Terms

Most material found online is licensed and is governed by the terms and conditions of the license (a form of contract). Because contracts and licenses are enforceable over the provisions of copyright law, the terms and conditions of the license apply. 

Subscription digital products such as electronic journals and eBooks come with licensing terms and conditions that may make explicit reference to permitted and prohibited uses.

You may sign clickable licenses with specific terms for individual subscription accounts (e.g., Netflix, Hulu) or your institution's library may have institutional licenses with specific terms with vendors. Any breach of those terms might result in loss of access to the resource or even litigation.

Site licenses permit certain uses of copyrighted materials by individuals affiliated with the institution that has signed the license. Those affiliated individuals are often called "authorized users." The library is a good place to learn what works your institution has licensed and on what terms. The terms on which affiliates or "authorized users" may use those materials are generally found on "Terms of Use" pages associated with the materials. In general, these are also found on the individual resource page in the library's Primo platform.

  • For more details, please see the Using Materials- Library-Licensed page.
  • Having difficulty accessing a library-licensed resource? Please email 


Adapted from George Mason University CC-BY 4.0 International License